- Posted June 26, 2013 by
Fayetteville, North Carolina
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
The Last Discrimination
The Last Discrimination
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning DOMA, I, like many Americans celebrated this historic milestone as a step towards acceptance of all lifestyles. Even though I’m straight, I can relate to my LGBT brothers and sisters as I too struggle for others acceptance of my lifestyle choice.
By all accounts, I appear to be a completely average 27-year-old female. I was never the kind of person who thought I’d champion for individual rights or equality. Sure, I believe in it, but I’m not the stereotypical “Occupy” protestor or gay rights advocate. On the outside, I look like many of my peers- I wear skinny jeans and Abercrombie. I play on my iPhone, Facebook, and Twitter. I tend to blend seamlessly into the background in a sea of average female faces.
However, I realize that this normality will not last long. Eventually as time goes on, I will start to become more and more isolated from my peer group as my secret comes out. You see, I don’t want children.
At first mention, this might seem like a minor comment. However, it is a lifestyle choice that I feel has alienated me from my peers and will continue to do so as I steadily creep towards middle age. The realization that I am somehow different is how I ended up writing this essay and found myself standing up for my own personal beliefs and, along the way, championing equal rights for all.
Although I know that I am not the same predicament as gay and lesbians, I try to explain that I too am just seeking acceptance into a world in which I feel often ostracized and out of place.
My reasons for not wanting children are partially biological and partially by choice. I have an autoimmune disease that limits my reproductive abilities. When the doctor told me that I might not reproduce, I wasn’t sad. I felt blessed because I could have been diagnosed with a much worse condition. Sure, I supposed there are artificial measures that I could go through. Even so, I do not wish to explore these avenues because they don’t interest me. I simply don't want children.
I identify with many of my gay and lesbian friends in trying to not convert others, but accept my lifestyle choice. I’ve always felt like I should be honest about who I was. I don’t think it’s right to have to say, “Well, we’ll have kids someday,” just as I don’t think it’s right for a gay man to have to say, “Someday I’ll meet a nice girl and settle down.” Like him, this is simply who I am.
My announcement has been met with mixed reactions from my various family members. When I told my parents, my dad was quietly accepting and my mom cried endlessly. She didn't understand. My husband and I argued about whether or not we should tell his parents. I said we should while he said we should just say, "not now." I’ve argued that this isn’t being honest about who we are and wonder if he is ashamed or not fully committed to our decision, although he says he is. I argue that he is still “in the closet” or perhaps even on the fence.
I have a hard time identifying with people who do have children, and have been the brunt of many of their judgments. I have been called selfish, materialistic, and worse. I don’t believe that I am selfish by any means. I think it would be far more selfish to have a child for the wrong reasons, such as preventing a boyfriend or husband from leaving, toting the child around like an accessory, or worst of all, having a child in order to qualify for more government benefits like welfare. I have seen my peers do all of these things and I can’t help but wonder how such irrational decisions, based not in love, but in ulterior motives, can be considered superior to my responsible choices.
If I have stated that I don’t want children, I ought to also state what I do want.
I want people to know that I like children. People think that I hate them. This isn’t true. I have worked with children in many of my jobs and have found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience. I am not an evil monster nor am I a freak of nature.
I want others to know that I am a practical person. I don’t feel that it is right to raise a child in a home full of stress. I don't have an incredibly high-paying job and I worry that I'll be burdened by student loan debt when I graduate from my doctoral program. I don't think a child is a cute accessory that you drop off at daycare and pick up at night. I realize that there is a commitment associated with raising a child and it is not a commitment that I wish to make. I am the kind of person who takes my commitments very seriously and thinks each and every decision through using logic and reasoning. I have written this essay using that same valid logic to support my ideas.
I want to be called “dynamic,” not “defective.”
I want to be celebrated for what I have achieved and who I am as a person, not for what I am allegedly “lacking.” (For the record, my life is not lacking in anything.)
I want those who pray to direct their intentions towards those who really need it- the victims of recent disasters and calamities around our nation and world. I don’t want sympathy- I have a great life in that I have achieved almost all of my educational goals. I have a husband whom I love and I have a job that makes me happy. To waste sympathy on me would be abhorrent. Sympathy is best reserved for those who have truly suffered a great loss.
I want to start an educated, informed, discourse on the topic. I don’t want to be spoken to in condescending tones and to be told that this is just a phase. I am not a small child who has developed finicky eating habits. I am a grown, responsible adult woman who has made a decision. Just as gays and lesbians do not “outgrow” their preferences, I don’t believe that I will outgrow mine either.
I want people to know that I do have a family. There are people who believe that I should not have married my husband because we don’t plan to reproduce. I can’t help but wonder: is a family not made up of people who love and care for each other? Is there a minimum quota to be considered a family? Last time I checked, there wasn’t. Are two heterosexual people raising their offspring in an environment of anger, violence, and poverty better people than my husband and I, whose house is filled with happiness and love?
I want people to know that writing this essay is the boldest thing that I have ever done in my life. I realize that by publishing it, I run the risk of being ostracized and alienated by many people. That’s OK. It is a risk I am willing to take. Like the equal rights crusaders before me who have challenged the beliefs of society with regard to race, gender, and sexual preference, I realize that my views will not always be popular. I just wish to do my part in creating a society that allows everyone, regardless of personal choices, to be accepted and able to express ourselves freely without fear of judgment.